Annie Evelyn, “Oshibana,” 2017. Handmade paper flowers, silk flowers, foam, wood. Photos by Scott Cartwright.
One of the pleasures of the field of contemporary craft is the tactile experience of materials used by craftspeople in the creation of a unique work of art. Unfortunately, once the work is on exhibition in our galleries, as with any museum, it is “hands off” for visitors. This summer, the normal guidelines that constrain your perception of a work of art have been lifted, as we invite you to experience the installation of new work by furniture maker Annie Evelyn with your eyes as well as your, well, derriere.
Studio furniture in America is notable for an unrestrained sense of humor, for its irreverence and playfulness, and Evelyn is no exception: one particular chair from her thesis exhibition featured a whoopee cushion hidden in its seat. Her pieces combine the meticulous production and understanding of material expected of fine woodworking and bespoke pieces of furniture, yet Evelyn is not concerned with creating objects that venerate either material or technique. Nor is her intention to produce furniture that is better seen than experienced. Her use of novel materials, including cast cement, metal scales, ceramic tiles, and even paper flowers, results in pieces beautiful to view but even more remarkable to feel. There is a wonderful moment of realization that accompanies a visitor’s first interaction with Evelyn’s furniture, when solid sharp-edged cement pieces yield to the touch and conform to the body.
Much in the field of contemporary craft is made to be experienced, to be used, and yet rarely are we able to do so in a museum environment. The remarkable furniture of Annie Evelyn is on view at the Center through September 2nd; I encourage you to experience it for your yourself.
–Perry A. Price, Executive Director